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Assistant Programme Director Partnerships – Yvonne Freeman
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Working in Partnership to address Climate Change

“Climate Change is a threat to global security that can only be dealt with by unparalleled levels of global cooperation”.   This was the message of Sir David Attenborough, to the  United Nations Security Council on 23 February 2021.

Over the last 150 years the average temperature of the world has risen by 1 degree Celsius and concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have not been equalled for millions of years.  If we fail to change course, everything which currently provides us with security will collapse – food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperatures, and ocean food chains.  The poorest will suffer the most. Noting worldwide public support for climate action, he said that if countries act fast enough, we could reach a new stable state.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres outlined the need for action in four priority areas: prevention, protection, security, and partnerships.  Referring to prevention, he urged the need for countries to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which seeks to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In November leaders of world governments will meet in Glasgow for COP26  –  the 2021 United Nations climate change conference.  The goals are. 

  • Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.
  • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.
  • Mobilise finance.
  • Work together to deliver.

It is now more important than ever for governments, non-governmental organisations, and civil society organisations, like Soroptimists, to work together in partnership to achieve these goals, as demonstrated in our efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Organisation (ORRAA), an example of organisations working in partnership to address climate action, aims to drive $500 million of global investment  by 2030 to enhance marine and coastal ecosystems such as reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds to increase resilience to climate change and mitigate its impact on coastal communities.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges how the adverse impacts of climate change can undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development.  When working in partnership to address climate change, we need to focus on Goals 13 and 17.


Goal 13 – take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts


Goal 17 – Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development


What are Soroptimists doing to address Climate Change?

Clubs are working in partnership with a range of organisations both in the UK and overseas:


South Kolkata club works with RIHAD (Research Institute for Human & Agricultural Development), an NGO running a school for children in Paranikho village in Canning Block in the Sunderbans, the mangrove delta in West Bengal, India.  Members planted 46 fruit trees including guava, mango, jack fruit, coconut, mud apple, green bear, apple guava and java apple, all of which will help to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Mothers of these children are provided with a livelihood whereby their income is augmented by the sale of produce when the plants bear fruit.


Bangalore Club in India and Surrey Hills Club in Southern England raised funds for the planting of mangrove saplings to protect the adjacent agricultural land from soil erosion in the Sunderbands and to replace those destroyed by recent cyclones.  People lost their homes during the cyclones and were dependent on volunteers delivering cooked food and serving the community as immediate relief.

Ilkley Club in Yorkshire were asked by Climate Action Ilkley to assist with a three-month survey of local supermarkets to determine the origins and costs to pocket and climate of fruit and vegetables.   Members discovered that whilst some vegetables were sourced locally, much produce had travelled many miles thus impacting on the climate.


Soroptimists in Barbados partnered with The Soroptimist Residential Village, Hildegarde Weekes Activity Centre (VAC) and Walkers Institute for Regenerative Research Education and Design (WIRRED) to take part in educational and interactive programs funded by the Cable and Wireless foundation.  Participants gained  experience in permaculture techniques they could apply in their own homes and communities. The project contributes to the growth of food without the use of chemicals.

Tunbridge Wells & District club together with Friends of the Earth wrote to politicians and council leaders regarding local initiatives for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  They followed up with a joint demonstration to challenge the local council on progress with their Climate Emergency Declaration and the effects of the pandemic on this.

Soroptimists across our Federation are involved in many other initiatives including beach cleans, repair shops, recycling projects, raising awareness of the damage caused by single-use plastics and lobbying local and national government on climate issues.

If you would like to help address climate change join Soroptimists and make a difference.

See what Clubs are doing in the other Programme Areas: